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Ncikazi told to play Mhango or 'go back to Arrows'

How can he say PSL is bigger than Afcon, asks Sebola

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Orlando Pirates co-coach Mandla Ncikazi.
Orlando Pirates co-coach Mandla Ncikazi.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu

Erstwhile Orlando Pirates striker Andries “Local is Lekker” Sebola has rebuked the club’s coach Mandla Ncikazi for his recent comments on in-form striker Gabadinho Mhango and his rather bizarre comments regarding the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).

Post their 1-0 win over AmaZulu in the first round of the Nedbank Cup at Orlando Stadium on Sunday, Ncikazi indicated Mhango’s splendid form at the recent Afcon in Cameroon, where he netted three goals as his nation Malawi qualified for the knockout phase for the first time, doesn’t guarantee him a starting berth at Bucs.

To make matters worse, Ncikazi alluded that the PSL was bigger than the Afcon, in comments which provoked widespread criticism for the seemingly talkative Pirates co-coach. Mhango didn’t even make match-day squad against Usuthu, despite having returned from Afcon sometime last week. 

“Mhango is supposed to play because he’s on fire. You can’t say a scoring striker must wait for his turn. As I am speaking to you, I am watching the highlights of that game [Pirates versus AmaZulu] and I can tell you Mhango would have scored if he was selected,’’ Sebola told Sowetan yesterday.

“Mhango is Pirates’ best striker at the moment, so he must start games. Mandla is losing the plot. When he says the PSL is bigger than Afcon, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. When he’s bored with coaching Pirates, he must pack his bags and go back to Arrows (where he coached last season).’’

Sebola expanded on why he thinks Ncikazi’s insinuation that the PSL was bigger than the continental showpiece was baseless. “How can the best players in the world in Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah play Afcon if it’s not a big tournament? The PSL is smaller than Afcon,’’ added Sebola.

“Riyad Mahrez won’t come from Manchester City to play for Algeria if Afcon was a small competition. I don’t know what’s wrong with Ncikazi these days. Mandla has never been out of the country to represent SA, that’s why he talks like this about Afcon.’’

Ncikazi gave a sense Kwame Peprah and Zakhele Lepasa were top in the club’s striking pecking order. The Pirates coach underlined the Malawian star must wait for his chance, despite having had a stellar Afcon.

“Currently, we chose to go with Peprah and Lepasa. He [Mhango] will get his opportunity in due course; he just has to work hard like other players. Mabasa was not part of the team, he couldn't make the 20 despite being a top player, being a player who is part of the national team,’’ stated Ncikazi.

“So, Mhango will wait like all other players. We recognise and acknowledge his performance at the Afcon but maybe the league in South Africa is bigger than the Afcon, but that is a question for another day.”

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